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Paper 7 - 28 March2003 Meeting
ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
28 March 2003
LOCAL AUTHORITY SOCIAL HOUSING GRANT -
REPRESENTATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT
Report by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Housing Officers’ Group in association with the Chief Executives’ Group
(1) That Members endorse the concerns about changes to local authority social housing grant expressed by the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group;
(2) That the Association writes to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister re-iterating these concerns.
1. Local authorities around the country have expressed to the Government their grave concerns over the proposed changes to Local Authority Social Housing Grant (LASHG), the speed of their introduction and the lack of transitional arrangements.
2. The additional funding is to be welcomed. However, the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group is extremely concerned about the impact these changes will have on the delivery of housing strategies. Concerns centre around:-
(a) Uncertainty over the transitional arrangements and concern that the £275m budget will be insufficient to cover all planned schemes. There is a risk that if schemes supported by the local authority are not prioritised by the Housing Corporation they will not have financial backing.
(b) Commitments made on the delivery of affordable housing by authorities who have transferred their stock.
(c) Loss of revenue from usable capital receipts for those local authorities with debt. This loss may lead to a cut in services. No clarification has yet been given on whether revenue transitional funding will be for more than one year.
(d) The delivery of affordable housing units to match needs identified through our housing needs surveys. There is particular concern for those who have special housing needs and for the supply of extra care units for elderly people unable to move out of hospital beds.
(e) Inability to provide accommodation to meet the statutory housing requirements of homeless families. This will in turn affect our ability to respond to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) requirements to have no families living in bed and breakfast accommodation from March 2004.
(f) The ability to deliver affordable accommodation for key workers in an area where statutory services are experiencing acute recruitment problems due to high house prices.
(g) The inability to deliver large-scale housing developments generally to match Government planning targets due the uncertainty.
(h) Being able to respond to areas of deprivation within our wards, which are not reflected when a regional perspective is taken. The potential lack of ability to invest in the regeneration of these areas could see them spiralling down further. Prevention is better than cure.
(i) Future grant funding of housing associations needs to be as responsive as LASHG has been, through in-year bidding for example, to enable development opportunities to be seized in the competitive market of the South East. LASHG has acted in the past to underwrite the risk for housing associations against Approved Development Programme bidding. This needs to be accounted for in any new grant process.
(j) The effect on the enabling role of a strategic housing authority where LASHG has been used to ensure that Government policies have been implemented locally. Abolition of LASHG means effectively that there will be loss of control and influence, and local authorities will have to apply as preferred providers rather than the other way round.
3. The speed of the change is causing much uncertainty and could result in many of our housing association partners having to bear financial loss on sites they have been working on for a number of years. Lack of clear advice over the transitional arrangements has exacerbated this and demonstrates that no consideration has been given to the impact caused by introducing such a major change over what amounts to a few weeks without proper planning.
4. Early clarification of the transitional arrangements is required. The deadlines set need to be extended so that local authorities are able to fulfil their published commitments made and approved by ODPM through housing strategies.
Chair of the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group
Date: 18 March 2003
Contact: Denise Luker tel: 01256 845395 email firstname.lastname@example.org
|Author:||Nick Goulder, Policy Manager|
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